Quilting

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Have I ever mentioned that I loathe beard stubble? The fake kind. Facial hair of carefully sculpted dishevelment. A noisome assemblage of short whiskerage popularized by ‘Miami Vice’ which then stuck around for the next 25 years. Why on Earth would anyone find curated scruffiness attractive? Even Jeffry Dean Morgan (the only man to look even remotely dashing with scruff on his face) looks better fully bearded or wholly clean-shaven. Stubble is wussy. It tries to be edgy and safe. In all honesty it just looks messy and prissy.

OMG! Speaking of messy and prissy – Did you know Mrs Maisel is married to Quentin Coldwater? Um, Rachel Brosnahan who plays Midge Maisel – a character who is brash, brilliant, and by the end of season 2 so, so brave. And this brisk, hilarious, stylish woman is married to Jason Ralph who plays Quentin on SYFY channel’s ‘The Magicians’. Quentin Coldwater is a WASP nebbish. Even the other characters describe him as ‘the guy with floppy hair’. There’s such a dissonance here it hurts my brain. Ja, ja, ja…I know the actors are not their characters. Actors are paid to pretend to be other people, but wow, this pairing is just weird.

The other day I got a face because I said I use jar pasta sauce. I shrugged it off because I grew up in a town that was about one-third Italian. Southern Italian. Every third house had a early mass attending, Naples to Palermo ferry riding, tiny but mighty black-clad nonna who made vats of red sauce every Saturday and considered Ragu right up there with blasphemy, cheating at Bingo, and your grandson knocking up an Irish girl and having to marry her freckled ass. I’ve been sauce-scorned by professionals.

But you know what? That long ago scolding has always pushed me to be a better cook. ‘Better’ as in ‘tastier results’, not ‘better’ as in ‘stupidly labor-intensive thus morally superior’ kind of better. I thought about this today as I got a jump on the week’s dinners and put together a base that will last two, three meals depending.

How To Make Sauce

Starting in a dry frying pan (what the hell do you call ‘not non-stick’?) I used my beloved stainless, heavy-ass straight side pan. I use this pan every time I cook. For real. It feeds off itself – winnowing and tailoring recipes so I can use my favorite pan and always pushing the boundaries how I use the pan so I can make more things. Anyway, in a dry frying pan brown a large package of sweet Italian sausage. Today a couple of the casings blew open so I chopped up the exploded ones into bits and browned the bits into cracklings. While the sausages did their thing I opened a 48 oz jar of Ragu Thick and Chunky – Garden Vegetable variety and poured it into my faux le Creuset. Next up was a 6 oz can of mushrooms (stems and pieces). I squeezed out about half of the liquid and then emptied the can into the Ragu jar. Shook it all up. The mushrooms and can liquid combined with the lees of sauce in the jar. (Hey, waste not want not.) Dumped the jar into the pot. Added the browned sausages. Scraped and drained the cracklings and added them to sauce. Rummaging in the fridge I found the last of the minced garlic and half of a vidalia onion. Chopped the onion and threw it in along with the garlic. A hefty pinch of salt. Lid on. Set burner on ‘low’. Went away until this happened.

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This is down to the nonnas, but it’s also me. I’ve been reevaluating everything lately. Like when does the sauce cease to be Ragu’s and become mine? When does it stop being ‘Super Freak’ and become ‘Hammer Time’? I can’t say.

Sebastian got a new job. He left the store nicely. Proper notice. Good terms. Just needed a change. His new gig is at the super duper fun fun entertainment place at the mall. In one way it’s just another joe job, but in another it’s a whole new world. I’ll have more to say when he’s been there for a few weeks. Hoping the younger skew of the clients and personnel brings Seb new adventures.

I’m in an awkward place with my son. He’s too polite to actively pull away. In this one area he is exquisitely attuned to my pain and grief over his brother and hesitates to cause me the tiniest smidgen of upset. I also understand how I’m being juked into doing the dirty work in his life. Classic male: “I didn’t want to screw up (and have to deal with possible criticism and *yuck* girl feelings) so I didn’t do anything.” (And you can’t fault me because I tried. At least a little.)

Ah child, you got here too late. Far too many men before you. I no longer accept so little. Like about my sauce…I’ve been juked by professionals. Your effort has to equal more than zero. Yes, I very much understand the risk I run by not kissing your ass and by continuing to parent you. I risk losing you as I did your brother. Funnily I have exactly as much experience at parenting a live-in adult child as I do at being one, but I’m giving this a go anyhow. Why not?

How To Make Something With the Sauce

Get out your big Pyrex. The oval one or the rectangle, whichever one you use for savory foods. If you like pristine edges on your bake-ware spritz some Pam. Preheat oven to 350. Boil 8 quarts of salted water. Cook a 1 lb package of mostaccioli* according to package directions then add 5 minutes. Barilla’s ‘al dente’ means: gluey on the outside, raw on the inside. (If this were going straight to table I’d say add 8 minutes.) Strain pasta and leave it where it is. Remove half of the sausages from the sauce pot. Cut sausages into 1/2″ rounds. In a very large mixing bowl assemble sausage rounds, drained pasta, 2 cups of shredded mozzarella. When reasonably mixed start adding sauce from pot until everything is well integrated and thoroughly coated with sauce. Dump the whole mess into the Pyrex. Cover baking dish with foil and heat in oven for 25 minutes.

*Sha, sha. Those of you living in pasta deserts, sha. Any tube shaped, fairly hefty pasta will do. Ziti, penne, even rigatoni. I was going to include ‘elbows’ for the really white people but realized they don’t have ‘EYE-talian’ sausage either. Really white people should caravan to the Olive Garden over in Saint Olaf’s and have a wonderful time eating foreign food and feeling all international. The rest of you try the pasta/sausage thing, it’s good. Inexpensive too. Gotta love the cheap eats.

 

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That’s Sandow. I just watched ‘Legends of Strength’ over on the Netflix and am delighted with this guy. No. I am delighted with Sandow’s biographers and super fans. They told this story with such affection. And appreciation. It was nice.

I say this because the world has gone discordant again. I’m having a difficult time with the cacophony.

For a wonder…I am paying attention to myself and am seeking out a comfy place away from all the harsh jangling alarmist “EVERYTHING IS A HUGE FUCKING DEAL!!!!!” blaring all the time.

Including the weather forecasting. Shame on them. Anyone with a brain could see some absolutely normal winter weather on its way. Ha. We got “ICE! SNOW! SHRIEK! PANIC! FROZEN DEATH IS COMING! YOU ARE HELPLESS AND WILL LEAVE A MOCK-ABLE CORPSE! NO WEATHER HAS EVER BEEN THIS SCARY!”

But LA, people need to know! The world is full of danger!

No. The world is full of bullshit. Our part of the world is frightened of just about everything and everyone. And it has bitten deeply into the nirvana loaf of “If I do everything exactly right I am safe. Bad things ONLY happen to losers and screw ups therefore they deserve their loss and pain. I don’t have to feel sorry or offer help.”

It’s not worked all the way through yet, but I have spent quite a bit of time over the last month or so wondering about the evolutionary roots of cruelty. And why people love dishing it. And why so many think cruelty is funny. What evolutionary purpose does a lack of empathy serve? This is the Big Thought right now.

Hope you’re warm and dry.

 

Much love, ~LA

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Meme Queen

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“LA, you need to put down the meme and back away slowly.”

Nope. Ain’t gonna happen in this lifetime, buster. Here’s the thing about having a blog…

We can meme if we want to, we can leave your butt behind. Cause my friends love memes, my friends DO memes and that’s why they’re friends of mine.

Go ahead. You recognize it. Read it out loud.

Earworm tag! You’re IT! Pass it on.

Anyhow. I made a command decision about the lack of palliative care and how this pain is chewing my life to bits – starting tomorrow I am showing up in person at the medicos’ offices and insisting on being treated. If you can’t fix me then help me LIVE. I’m exhausted with chugging along doing All The Things on my own. Some help would be decent of you, Dr Kidney. You, too, Dr GP. I will not be put off by my paranoia about being seen as a pill shopper anymore. If opiates are the only thing in your pocket then you are a poor doctor. How about a ‘scrip for acupuncture? Reiki? TENS? Massage? A sweat lodge? I cannot afford a lot of this care unless it’s covered by insurance so doctors please get off your tushies and HELP.

So having decided this, today I have wound myself up in a big fluffy blanket and decreed it a day off from bullshit. There is not a single issue that cannot wait until tomorrow. I gave Mick the stink eye and made sure he understood he was included. Today no Paul Revere-esque cantering into my office every 45 minutes bugling, “The neighbors are mowing!” “The mailman is late!” “It’s going to snow 6″ next Thursday!” and waiting for an appropriately het up response from me. Sorry, honeybunny, no ‘het up’ from me today. Tomorrow is ‘Het Up!’ Day. Today is memes and sending the kid out for fried chicken day.

 

Finally she gets to the meme. Thanks as always, Bev.

Have you ever tried to learn (or re-learn) a foreign language as an adult? Which one? What worked for you? I learn bits and pieces of languages every day. True mastery isn’t a goal. I’m hella good at charades, and anyway everybody pretty much wants to know the same things. Some cultures are more circumspect than others and once I have a handle on how direct I should be communicating is pretty easy. A few nouns and maybe a cartoonish verb like ‘race’. “I race food! Good bye!” The person understands I’m going to a shop or a restaurant not that I challenge potatoes to footraces but it’s still a little cute. “ZOOM! Good bye, foreign woman! Enjoy your lunch!”

Do you donate blood? Do you know your blood type? Yes. And yes. Over 3 gallons lifetime total. Marrow donor- close tested once but not a best match. Signed organ donor with skull and jaw specifically directed to the Cornell School of Dentistry. That’s probably my best bet for life after death – I still have great teeth. Goodness knows the rest of my carcass is falling to bits. If I didn’t still need to live in it I’d have it condemned.

Have you ever been in a play or musical? Not since school. I feel like I’m forgetting something though. Something big and clumsy like, “Um, hello? How did you forget 3 USO tours?” Feh. Nevermind.

Do you use certain text or ring tones for specific people? Who gets their own? Or do you just use the default on your phone? Oh yes. All my people have their own ring. Most of my contacts have photos too. Not really crazy about the phone. Not anti-phone, just still figuring out the ratio of convenience to feeling tethered. I dislike the barging in immediacy of always having a phone on me. I remember landlines before answering machines. The luxury of “We’re eating. Let it ring, if it’s important they’ll call back.” Busy signals were frustrating sometimes, but what took its place is so much worse. A busy signal said, “Hello. One of the people at this number is using the phone now and respects the party they are speaking with. No, YOU do not get to butt right in and demand to be dealt with! Go away and try again later.” A necessary wee ego adjustment. It happened so regularly we didn’t know how valuable it was until now. It’s 2019 and we have a world full of demanding whiny self-entitled noogies! And they elected the biggest noogie as their leader! GAH! Bring back the busy signal. And going inside to pay for gas. Bring back all kinds of small obstacles and opportunities to be helpful instead of making it easier and easier to be an isolated clueless jerk.

What do you think someone else would say the most daring thing you’ve done is? Daring? I think my hair would come up a lot. The way I’ll just mow it off or dye it some wacky color. Look, I have friends who travel the world – some with their kids in tow! Friends who bungee, karaoke, they use macro-lenses and space telescopes. They play roller derby and grow things and push boundaries every day with their art and attitude. They try in-vitro. They get advanced degrees. They pick up and figure out how to ‘be’ after a loss. A body part. A spouse. A career. My friends renovate houses and run kickass libraries, and they adopt ALL the cats. Who knows what counts as ‘daring’ to such a fab assemblage?

Do you talk with your hands? Does typing blog posts count? Then yes, all the damn time! Heh. Like so much else about me, the answer is: not as much as I used to. Once upon a time I was a gesticulator extraordinaire. See #1 and charades. I don’t wave and flap and point much anymore, but I do ‘driving hands’ and bring the the ‘talking on the phone hand’ up to my ear. I do NOT do the air doodle of signing the check! I catch the server’s eye and SHE asks me if I want the check by doing the air doodle and I nod. I also occasionally swear in ASL. Only got caught once. Called someone a ‘twat-waffle’ behind her back and got a giggle from a nearby young woman with a cochlear implant. I made a burlesque “Who me?” face. She laughed again and off we went a little better for the shared joke.

Given the choice in a restaurant – would you go with a booth or table (or bar!!!) for seating? As diner people you know we go with the booth every time, but every once in a while a booth is a problem for me. The table that hits right under the boobs is a bad one.  Not only can’t I see what I’m eating but the ladies are pontooning through my dinner and by meal’s end my shirt looks like a Miro.

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Sometimes now I opt for the table, especially if I still have more places to go and don’t care to be running errands with gravy stalactites hanging off the undersides of my bosoms.

Do you have an eclectic mug collection, or is your stuff all matchy matchy? I have one dish set in use that the mugs are perfect. But there’s only three mugs and who can live like that? There’s maybe 11 more mugs of various size and pedigree. Mugs are also my go-to souvenir but I don’t use them for coffee. I rather admire matchy matchy sometimes. I really like matching sheets and pillowcases. I’m all about the hand-thrown and pre-hipster eclecticism but you must admit a well-set table is a lovely thing.

Do you ever get the urge to watch a favorite scene from a movie, and watch just that scene? This is nutty, but until YouTube it never occurred to me to jump cut to the good bit. Books and movies MUST be re-read/re-watched from beginning to end. I had no problem playing my favorite song off an album a zillion times on repeat, but the sacred writ and holy Hollywood were taken in reverence. Thank you, YouTube for blowing apart the moral onus of ‘Thou Shall Not Skip Ahead’.

What I can skip to is off to bed. Busy week coming up. Many work hours on the schedule, plus staging sit-ins at doctors’ offices too? Definitely time to get some shut-eye.

 

Sweet dreams and lots of love, ~LA

And…it’s 2019.

Yikes! My kid is going to be 34 in a couple weeks! Alex, the older one, the one who doesn’t speak to me.*  At 34 I’d been Alex’s mother for 12 years already. Not only did I have a nascent teenager I spent most of 1997 incubating his little brother too. I know for myself that when I truly understood how goddamn young my parents had been it began unblocking the resentment. I was able to let go of loads and loads of emotional backwash. All this yuck had been fermenting behind the resentment wall and was stinking up my life something fierce. Glad to get rid of it. This letting go process is a healthy type of forgiveness. At least for me.

I always thought ‘forgiveness’ required too much walking things back. “You knew I was drunk and you raped me? Hahaha, okay, that’s fine. We’re cool, bro. Shit happens, amirite?” ‘Let it go’ forgiveness is, “You are shit, you are scum, you hurt me. BUT to conserve energy and brain space you and I are finished. I am not going to keep stoking that resentment bonfire in my heart. And so you go to ash.”

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‘Let it go’ forgiveness toward my parents usually happened when I had the gestalt of being an age I distinctly recognize them being. In my earliest memories my parents are probably only 20 years old. I put on my ‘Me at Age 20’ suit. Or try, it’s such a squeeze! The Age 20 suit is tiny. And there were my dopey parents, only one of whom spoke English proficiently. My da was learning along with me, but really only for business. My handsome father made very good use of the whole bad English/sexy accent thing. That he only has four acknowledged children just means he’s lucky and after being surprised with me brought his own condoms.

The emotional unclogging continues, chopping loose and sending hurt-logs down the flume. School scars – shitty teachers, broken hearts, making HUGE decisions with trajectories that hurtle you into a future that you might not have chosen if you’d had more time in the beginning. You know what sucker-punched me? Obama. For real. Not George Bailey, but I got to honestly see where my life would have gone if I’d had some guts, if only I’d believed I could. Okay, fine, Harvard is a big place. No compelling reason to meet as undergrads. Might have though. I got early acceptance at age 16. I was only a year behind Barack. Anyway, the law school isn’t that big and when Obama edited the Law Review you can bet your bippy I’d have been knocking myself out with submissions, cleverly showing up at the same parties too. No way a guy as witty and sexy as Obama is going to ignore NY’s answer to Elle Woods. I’d make sure of that. What I hope is that somehow I’d also make sure he and I never crossed the line. That having skated up to the thin ice of getting jiggy with it I had the smarts to redistrict our relationship into something with long-term potential. By law school one should be cultivating the beginnings of a career network and while in the mid-80s nobody had any idea Obama was headed for the White House, shoot at that point it might have been ME with the goal of being Madam President, staying friends was a definite. Then BLAM! My old law school pal is President. You know I’d be there with a big smile and a resume. C’mon, tell me honestly you couldn’t see me as Press Secretary? Or U.N. ambassador? Or sorry, Hillary…Secretary of State? I try to stay away from woulda/shoulda, because regret is dumb, but I KNOW this is how it would have played if I’d had the chops to go to Harvard when I had the chance.

Btw, job #2, please. Gene Roddenberry shaped my morality far more than any holy word has. As a Trek fan I do not fear a One World Government. Bring on the Federation, baby. The United Nations is a decent start. I believe humans are a single species regardless of color or # Instagram followers. Working toward being a cohesive planet is a worthy thing. If for no other reason than we share a single biosphere. China’s carcinogenic air pollution does not stay in China. Nor do India’s river dumps of spoiled/expired medications. The US’s shameful single-use plastic habit is the structure and battening of the Pacific Garbage Patch.  We as a species really need to get our act together.

We need to stop squabbling and recognize what Cyrus explains so eloquently.

 

It IS all our turf. And right now we’re doing a terrible job of caring for it and each other. Enough, already.

Anyway, the odd understanding of my parents. Being kind is ageless and requires very little instruction, but I have to temper my expectation of kindness against the fact they got married, had two kids, bought a house, built a custom super fancy one next-door, and then divorced all before their prefrontal cortices were even fully online. Seriously. I balance their flubs against my own at their age. Like from age 29 to 33 I was an asshole. Now I know how broken I still was, but 1990 LA believed she was FABULOUS! Under that layer of bad-assery I was still sad and all beaten up. Made some spectacularly selfish decisions and absolutely believed I was owed and thus allowed to be so awful. What a chooch. Now, of course, I like to think I have some integrity. Some moral backbone. I’m also about to turn 56. Knowing what I was like in my 30s I cannot demand any better from my parents. Nor co-workers, random in-laws, and the rest of the emotional cordwood I had stacked all around my heart in a bulwark of butt-hurt.

*This brings me to my son. I am not angry at him anymore. For his silence, I mean. For never explaining what his issues are. Maybe he doesn’t even know. Or they change as his perspective changes but essentially I remain a heinous beast. It’s okay. He’s turning 34 on the 16th. See above what I was like at his age. I am not saying my son is an asshole, only that he’s still wading through tons of his own stuff. If I’m the pinata he has to flail at while he figures things out, okay.

I was not the GREAT MOM I thought I was during the Alex years, but neither was I abusive. Loved my kid and believed in him despite his discontent and bitter judgments about everyone and everything. I never saw it then but if you make a flipbook from his school pictures he mouths, “Fuck you.” My son was/is? a deeply unhappy person. I missed a lot of it. Caused some of it. Truly though, he’s not smiling in a single baby picture. I swear.

The ex keeps me up to date with what’s doing with our elder spawn. Win-win-win. Alex gets to show off his progress, Mike gets to be smug and graciously send me pics, I get to look at the human I made, still love, always miss, but I’m dealing being apart from because I respect that Alex has stuff, as we all do.

If you haven’t twigged it by now I will come right out and say I’ve forgiven myself too.

I don’t know how to talk about this without sounding like a meme. An affirmation by Jack Handy.

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The thing is I’ve accepted the Zen of Shit Happens. This does NOT excuse bad behavior of any sort! What it does mean is I have adopted a life stance of giving zero fucks about WHY someone did something or said something. Unless it’s something so bizarre I have to know and thus will ask immediately. “You believe having pyrex glass devil’s horns implanted in your forehead is a good fashion choice why?” You know that trite thing about ‘not my monkeys…’? I’ve absolved myself from feeling responsible, obligated, guilty, or otherwise encumbered by anyone else’s mess. Does NOT absolve me of being a decent human being. I’m no shit-heel libertarian. What I did is move my ego out of the equation. Reciprocity will mess you up. A total sucker’s bet. “I did X for him, he MUST do Y for me!” No, no no! You do things because you’re being the person you’ve chosen to be.

Constantly Rubik’s cubing people’s motives and meanings is exhausting! Then hitching my self-worth onto that fitted together construct and zizzing around all knotted up hoping I’d gotten it right, oy. Not any more, my darlings.

I do the best I can at any given time. I acknowledge days when mainlining Hallmark movies and Double-Stuf Oreos is ‘my best’. As are the days when I kick ass at work, upsell like a mofo, exchange recipes and hugs, and share a smile with every single person be they a vendor, a co-worker, or a customer. Days when I always use my turn signals and my manners. Honestly? It’s about paying attention. Am I ‘living in the moment’? Perhaps.

Whatever this mindset is I like it because I feel balanced. Not tenuously balanced like a fairy on a filament.

 

Sturdily balanced. I’ve stopped allowing (mostly) imagined arbiters of my life run my show. They don’t get to choose the adjectives either. And I don’t do it back. I am observant, but hold off on putting moral judgments on what I see. As best I can. Not perfect. I have “Hello, how are you?” relationships that are years long now and not once has being friendly and kind come back and bitten me. Plus the main thing about being kind is there is no counting. I genuinely don’t notice who says hi first. I don’t keep track of who paid for lunch or take offense if someone cancels. Sure I understand the fear of being duped or hurt. If you cannot distinguish between being a friend and being a sucker then that’s an area you should work on. For your own peace of mind. I have good boundaries nowadays and comfy where I am.

This, however, must not be read as a challenge. No barging in with a mouthful of bile to dash that shit in my face. If there is one quid pro quo I maintain it’s detente. Be easy. Step back a little. Wait a beat until that caustic impulse passes. And think…

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Happy 2019, y’all.

 

Love you lots! ~LA

Dreamy’s Meme

Just beneath a scrim of same old, same old there’s a lot going on. I am de-cluttering my physical space along with my psyche. Being me there is no master plan and everything moves in fits and starts and it’s all to a purpose but haphazard in its execution. How I go about things isn’t on my agenda though. Nothing is more self-defeating than giving myself grief about my methods. Instead of totting up all the things I didn’t do I’ve decided to be pleased with what I DID do. A radical departure but this method allows me to get off the hell cycle of being down on myself and feeling like crap for not being THE BEST HOUSECLEANER/EMPLOYEE/WIFE/MOTHER/NEIGHBOR/FRIEND/CITIZEN IN THE WHOLE UNIVERSE!!! all the damn time. I am beyond tired of feeling bad about who I am and what I do and how I do it.

I’ll tell you something else – Life isn’t like summer camp. There are no medals and ribbons awarded for things like ‘Best Bird House Maker’ or ‘Most Improved Swimmer’; in real life the Prize Patrol doesn’t roll up with a cartoon check made out to: ‘Most Reliable Mortgage Payer’ or ‘My Children Have NEVER Had A Chicken Nugget’. In the end there’s only you. Or me. And I am in a very transitory state between chapters just now. Sebastian and I are figuring out how to navigate the ever-moving boundary between regurgitating food for him and kicking him out of the nest. And I’m carefully steering through the choppy water of my husband rushing in to fill the vacancies left by my son. Putting my own self in order feels like the most logical step. I cannot be fair or honest with my guys unless I understand what I want life to look like. All those years wasted…tsk…martyrdom will mess you up!

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So anyway, while I’m sorting my mental and actual laundry doing memes feels natural. I’m already asking myself questions, why not some just for fun? A nice change from – “When should Sebastian be responsible for his own car insurance? And is it fair to cut him loose from our policy when on his own the cost will likely triple?” and “Oh shit, what if he wants to bring a girl home overnight?” GAHHH! Yeah, waxing rhapsodic about my favorite cut and style of jeans* or a happy memory from 5th grade** feels like a snuggy comforting squishy hug to my brain.

(*- Mid-rise, boot cut, dark wash, stretch 95% cotton denim with deep front pockets and back pockets large enough to securely carry a Galaxy 8 or better.)

(**- My school picture. Man, 5th grade was stormy. The summer after 5th grade my mother twitched us across town into a less unsavory address so as not to frighten off classy candidates for 3rd husband. I was delighted to be a block away from my best friends instead of a lengthy and lumpy bike ride from Cockroach Heights down to Single Mom Haven. We had a glorious summer! That was the summer of roller skating and starting fires and playing ‘Spy’. We stole, cooked, and ate corn on the cob. The last summer of my childhood was the best and when school pictures were taken not long into September I still wore a tan and a brigand’s smile. But on the cusp of puberty I was also pleased I had really good hair and a cool outfit on. Despite my scoop-neck top’s garish burnt orange and stripes color scheme, I look good. Strong. Unafraid. It might have only lasted as long as a shutter click but in that moment I was the bad ass I would-a, could-a, should-a been.)

 

Someday I will get some of the family pics off my sister and I can not only share with you guys but also reassure myself I am not a figment of my own imagination. Which seems possible. But not probable. Too much upsy-downsy tied together with long stretches of boring. I’d like to believe if I were making up my life I’d have a hella lot more fun than this one’s been.

A Meme by Dreamy 

Favorite novel and author? (Gently lifts Stephen King and sets him to one side.) A novel I turn to again and again is:

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Who I am at each re-read changes so the story changes. Also this book proved to me that poor grammar doesn’t matter if the story is meaty enough. This book breaks every single English rhetoric rule, but instead of being jerky and incomprehensible the story has meter. It rollicks along like a Johnny Cash song.

Favorite perfume/scent? Entirely separate questions. There are plenty of things I enjoy the scent of that I wouldn’t wear on my body. For instance – gasoline. When I was pregnant I couldn’t get enough of that smell and even when I’m not manufacturing a new human being I still like the smell of gasoline. But I’m not dabbing super unleaded behind my ears, you know? Given my druthers and an unlimited budget I’ve worn three scents layered on top of each other. ‘Opium’ by YSL, ‘Cinnabar’ by Estee Lauder, and ‘Musk’ by Alyssa Ashley. My favorite compliment about this combo came from a server at Outback. She’d leaned in to get my order, stood, and then leaned back in taking a theatrically deep sniff. “Wow! You smell great!” sniff #3 “Like a Catholic church in New Delhi!”

Coffee or tea? Another two-part question. Coffee is easy. Even if you take it as I do (no sugar, with real milk- not creamer or half & half). Coffee is quick and it’s immediately understood. Ordering tea while I’m out is dumb. Takes too long, the steep is always too weak, meh. Tea at home is a pleasure. Especially since Mick makes it for me 90% of the time.

Are you a cat or dog person? I’ve had far more cats, but this is because cats are easier pets to cohabitate with. Having a dog is like living with a toddler. A toddler that after about 12 years turns into your combative slightly senile grandma with the bad hips and a heart condition. Overnight. Cats are teenagers until the very end. Diva teenagers.  Cat or dog, you picks your poison.

Which mythical creature would you transform into if you could? A woke white man? An honest politician? Ooo, I know! A woman who is ‘just right’ for everybody! Not too busy or too lazy or fat or old or bitchy or ‘crazy’ or promiscuous or wearing the wrong clothes, hairstyle, amount of make-up or….bwahahaha! Nope, imposs. I’ll be a dragon, thanks. The bookish kind.

Favorite time period? I really have to stop overthinking these. I am very fond of antibiotics. There has been no safer time to be ill or injured than right now. Plus, like any place in history if you’re not insanely wealthy your life is mostly a drag of subsistence wage/work and trying to keep your kids alive. Meh. Style-wise I appreciate the latter days of the Belle Epoque. I’ve always been a sucker for a great hat.

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Name 3 films that have changed your life and have shaped you into the person you are today. ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’. Quotable. Funny. Anti-heroes who die at the end. (So 1970!) My main takeaway is the relationships. Among the guys and the gang and even poor Woodcock, of course. But what truly fetched me was that Etta Place had two husbands. Or maybe one husband divided into two men. An arrangement that makes a lot of sense to me. But then I like being doted on.

‘Private Benjamin’. On the flip-side of being doted on there is the fierce awakening of Judy Benjamin. Two friends had treated me to a movie for my birthday and when Judy walks out on the wedding and Henri…wow. She looks down at her bare ring finger, smiles, and marches away up the drive into a future of her own making we three jumped to our feet applauding and cheering. There was a beat and a lot of people around us joined in. It was a moment.

For the last one I’ll say ‘The Odd Couple’ for convenience, but it’s really Neil Simon and his pitch-perfect dialog in so, so many movies. Too. Goddamn. Funny. That thing I do when I’m talking about true things but it comes out all hilarious? I’m subconsciously channeling Neil Simon. Neil Simon, of course, channeled the Borscht Belt comedians who were actually the last remnants of vaudeville. It’s a comedic cant which is instantly familiar.

Diamonds or pearls? Oh gosh, I own about the same number of each. I wear diamonds every day because of my wedding set and almost never wear the Mikimodo my ex-MIL gave me for my 30th birthday. Neither Barbara Bush nor Donna Reed, there was a time when I tried to make a life where pearls as day-wear was a thing. Didn’t last long. I’m allergic to cashmere. I know, right? You try to be swanky in a poly-cotton blend. It ain’t happening.

What’s your biggest dream? I can say my most persistent Walter Mitty daydream is playing the drums. Like I’m out at a bar with a live band and during a break I ease up onto the bandstand. Grabbing some sticks I play a crazy hard set piece and everyone goes nuts. I used to want this because it seemed wicked cool, but I’m aging in real time and in my daydreams and now it mostly makes me laugh to think about. These days such a performance would be far more Susan Boyle than Sheila E. Heh. Cue: gobsmacked Simon Cowell- “Whoo! You go, squishy odd woman with bad eyebrows! You go!”

Dream destination? Holy cats, this comes up on nearly every meme. To change it up, instead of an actual physical place, here’s where my life is going, ‘k? First comes the hosanna for menopause. Living in such peaceful seas is soothing. Getting places requires so much less effort! It used to be some misty half-mythical far off land, but now getting to Happy is easy! Happy is on my daily commute. So are Peaceful, Accomplished, Safe, and Loved.

Favorite fictional character? Gracious! What kind of question is this? Memes are fun but the language tends to encourage absolutes. Don’t we get enough of this in our politics? I’d rather be asked: “Name a fictional character whose company you’ve enjoyed.” Montgomery McNeil. I’ve watched ‘Fame’ at least 20 times and he’s the only character who hasn’t irked me at some point. *NY Liberal Elitist Alert: I immediately assumed this question meant a book character and had to stamp out several ego flare-ups shouting, “Little Dorrit!” “Clytemnestra!” “Offred!” before allowing myself to pick a movie character yet cannot resist the humble-brag that I know those names. *snort*

Share a quote or passage that means something to you. Here’s one I like: ‘Nobody Ever Sees You Eat Tuna Fish’. It’s the title of a memoir by David Brenner and the eponymous essay within talks about how David and his friends would hit the boards in Atlantic City every couple of months and how David always seemed flush with cash and confidence. A friend calls him on this and David explains that between times he lives lean. He scrimps and saves and ‘eats tuna fish’ instead of hitting the diner every other night and how he avoids the bars. By carefully husbanding his resources David could have a worry-free spree in A.C. when the time was right. This was a similar gospel to my mother’s, but hers was ALL about snaring a husband and Brenner just wanted a good time. Whatever. Whoever. I agree with the basic tenet of saving to party. The tricky bit is figuring out where the line is between having such a long view that ‘Now’ never comes and deciding that ‘Taco Tuesday’ qualifies as a legit reason to rack up your cards and drink halfway to alcohol poisoning.

What’s your favorite plant/flower? My favorite plants are trees. Deciduous trees. Conifers are selfish. Nasty, pointy, inedible, sticky, stinky things with their labor-intensive cones. Shallow-rooted jerks. If the forest was an 80’s movie the conifers would be played by Billy Zabka. As far as flowers go I like highly scented flowers and those that bloom in heaps and drifts. Climbing roses satisfies both requirements.

Do you prefer the forest or the ocean? Why? Phoo, another clumsy one. Asking that is like asking, “Carbs or proteins?” Not really an either or proposition. I live in the trees. Not a forest, too much through-traffic, nor anything near as well-kept as a park either. Just trees. Lots of them. It’s been three years since I’ve seen the ocean. Me? The kid who spent her winters hunting for sand in her navel and dreaming of being back at the shore? How is this possible? A hideously destructive super-storm. MTV and their &%^$#@!! ‘reality’ show. Gentrification. And the final nail in OG Seaside Heights was the fire that leveled Funtown Pier. John Irving fans will understand when I say the torching of Funtown was a smart bear’s kind of fire. Besides himself with his translucent dermis and me with that fetching eastern European potato farmer pallor and a dozen squamous carcinomas between us going to the BEACH is all kinds of stupid. Even if Mick had enough melanin to black out the sun Seaside doesn’t have the history for him as it does for me. On our few trips there it never quite jelled as an ‘our’ place. Weird. Mick even presented me with my actual engagement ring at midnight on the beach with a moon path ending at our feet. And we exchanged wedding bands on the boardwalk on what would have been our wedding day if we hadn’t had a JP job the previous November. Not Mick’s fault that Seaside has stayed aloof. Instead of Dali’s dripping clocks, my Persistence of Memory is bounded to the east by curling surf stretching away into the horizon, to the north by an amusement pier, to the south by shadowy dunes and night-fishermen with Coleman lanterns and coolers of domestic beer in cans, and to the West of a blocks’ deep archipelago battened to the mainland with bridges footed with Rat Pack-esque restaurants featuring bushel-sized shrimp cocktails and steaks served on sizzling platters. Places with flocked wallpaper and veined mirror tiles.

gold nirror

What do you value most in people? Jinkies, this is a rather heavy question to finish on. The standard answer is a lot of crap about honesty. Not me! I do NOT want all my feedback to be ‘honest’. Nuh-uh. You all ‘truth tellers’ can go screw. When I’m wallowing and sad I know what the right path is, guh, I just don’t want to do it. Right then I need to be patted. Agreed with. Encouraged. We’ve been friends for a long time and you know I always pull out of a tailspin and do the right thing. Meaning the be kind to others thing. The least toxic impact on the future thing. ‘The Best I Can Do With What I’ve Got’ thing. What I value most in others is padding. Handle me with care. Good friends, true friends look inside and find a kind way to deliver bad news. A skill I am working on all the time. I’m blabby. Not from malice. My conversational boundaries are broad and not always conventional. Me: “Blah..dee..blibberty…blah.” “LA!!!!” “What?” “You can’t SAY that!” “Oh, sorry. Why not?” I try very hard to observe boundaries, don’t always succeed, but the attempt is sincere. Once upon a time I was one of those ruthless truth tellers. All bald unvarnished truth. So proud of my honesty!

Took some time but living with Aspies sped the process along. I’ve long thought the Asperger crowd should hook up with anesthesiologists and double their efficiency. No one like an Aspie to zero in on your ouchiest place and hammer on that fucker until you’re ready to die. I’ve learned the value of providing a soft landing thanks to my brutal children and their father. I’m horrified I probably hurt people with my smug ‘honesty’. Tell you what, I’ve never heard anyone being ‘brutally honest’ like this, “OMG! Krista! The tort you wrote exonerating SplashyTown from liability damages caused by the Shady Shoddy Sidewalk Company’s poor materials is amazing!” No, it’s always, “Krista! No wonder Jay left you for Hailey the Ho, your forehead’s a zit farm and your boobs are lopsided.” Why do that? Krista knows all about her zits and her boobs. And, bitch, Jay left because Hailey is all sparkly and new and doesn’t care that he’s defaulting on his student loans…yet. (Just wait until that shared mailing address starts dragging her credit.)

I have a busy day tomorrow so if I don’t get back have yourself a Merry Little Christmas.

 

Love you always, ~LA

Artsy Fartsy

Again I credit Bev and the Sunday Stealing site. Gads, I wish I could figure out the HTML for hot links here as I had at D-Land! This meme is by someone called ‘Art Historic’. Apologies for being lame at code and currently unable to send you hither with HTML.

An Art Meme…sort of.

Classical: If you were an Olympian god, what would you be known for? First please understand classic Greek/Roman mythology was taught in the fourth grade in here in NY. At least the bare bones beginner version of it. I attended FIVE different schools during the fourth grade. I swear to you it seemed that at each school on my very first day the teacher would say, “Well now that we’ve covered mythology let’s move onto blah, blah, blah.” Yeesh. I’ve struggled to catch up ever since. So if I’m going to go with a classical goddess I’m making up my own…Didja – the goddess of trivia. Ha! “Didja know umbrellas were originally invented as sun shades?”

Byzantine: Do you prefer gold or silver accessories? Silver. I am all about the silver. Looks great with black. It’s relatively inexpensive. Oddly, I don’t like Native American designs. The whole ‘southwestern’ genre leaves me indifferent. Plus I am psychically allergic to turquoise. I loathe turquoise! Wearing it gives me the creeps. In the late 1970’s it was nearly impossible to find silver jewelry that didn’t drip with faux arrowheads, feathers, and that damn turquoise. However, in the last 25 years silver’s come into its own and it’s easy to find jewelry and other accessories in silver (or stainless steel) without looking like a flea market pow-wow.

Medieval: Are you religious? Not in the least. I believe in the cosmic consciousness though. Humans and most other life on Earth is powered by electricity. I believe we are all transmitters and receptors. I think we can ‘hear’ each other, at least on some level. Empaths, healers, psychics, and in some cases the insane, we are the exceptionally attuned to the current that runs between living beings. A skill which is often labeled as ‘extra-sensory’ or ‘magic’ or ‘clever guesswork and bullshit’. It’s actually just a genetic gift like perfect pitch or sinking three-pointers from center court. Some of us are born with a knack, and sometimes we discover it early enough to practice it long and hard enough to get really good. Nothing extra or supernatural about it.

Gothic: What is your favorite historic building? As much as I adore those NYC favorites: the Empire State, the Chrysler, the UN, and Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, my absolute fave is the Tribune Tower in Chicago.

trib

It’s not only beautiful for its own self, there’s pieces of many other famous buildings and structures embedded in it. One of my favorite Chicago memories is spending an unexpectedly warm and sunny afternoon going around the base of the Trib with a map I got in the lobby looking for all the bits and thrilling to touch a piece of the Taj Mahal and seeing an actual piece of the Great Pyramid at Giza.

Renaissance: Have you ever had a time in your life when you felt enlightened or changed? Shortly after my 27th birthday I went through an enormous change of perspective. As though my actual vision widened exponentially. For the first time I understood I was just one among billions. Most importantly I understood that each of us is the star of our own show. Suddenly so many of the expectations of and fears I had about others melted away. “Doh duh! Even the villains believe they are the Good Guys!” Life made much more sense after that.

Baroque: Do you enjoy the finer things in life? I see and enjoy and appreciate the workmanship of finer things but do not find them essential. I gain very little of my status through my possessions. Yet I am not unaware of the impression on others those things make, and in certain situations would not want to be caught wanting. I’ll explain. Goodness knows I go on enough about my personal style, and know for the life I lead my wardrobe is fine, but it IS chintzy. A lot of ‘fast fashion’. Cheaply made clothing made from flimsy fabrics that pill, fade, and stretch out of shape despite best practices care. Recently I watched a doc on the history of the Plaza Hotel in NYC. This reawakened my desire to have tea in the Palm Court. A tea so swanky that a table for two with caviar service will run about $350 before tax and tip. I described it to Mick and saw that gleam come into his eyes. Lordy, does this man love making my dreams come true! “Mick! Honey, please listen to me! Do NOT arrange to have tea at the Palm Court! Do NOT! I would NOT enjoy it. Not with my current wardrobe.” He looked at me and started to lay out the argument for “Who cares what they think?” and “My Baby is a queen no matter where she goes and screw the Plaza if they don’t get that!” Stop! Thank you. This is truly about my feelings. If I had tea at the Palm Court I’d want to be wearing clothing that didn’t get me snitty looks from the servers. Tea at the Plaza should be all about pleasure and comfort and being spoiled, not spent in some pitiful tourist ghetto feeling awkward about my Avenue and Torrid ‘couture’. I’d like to be well dressed and casually comfortable enough to not have my day spoiled. Mick looked confused but held up ‘peace’ hands signaling that he heard, didn’t understand, but had heard me. You guys do, I know you do.

Rococo: Is your bedroom full or trinkets and pictures? If so, which pictures adorn your walls? I’m not being a picky-pants but this question seems best answered by someone whose only legitimately claimed space is a bedroom. I have a house and I spread my personality all over it. Roommates? Not a living situation I’m much familiar with. I’ve only lived with parents or romantic mates or in my car or briefly with a gay friend acting as a beard to his ‘Christian’ parents. Oy, my darling friend. In the midst of the shittiest time to be gay ever Drew gave too much. So desperate to prove his value to society. To keep his parents’ social stock from going down. He DIED to spare his shitty parents anguish. Drew’s parents, (disgusting phlegm noise), the same parents who buried Drew under a blanket of lies claiming his AIDS was leukemia and accepting a lot of congratulatory shit about “God’s will”, yuck. It was only that I had Baby Alex in my arms that kept me from screaming at Drew’a internment. Gah! I kept quiet to spare my son and Drew’s parents lied to spare themselves. By lying about Drew’s cause of death and how they’d completely rejected him when he was well and again when he’d asked for help when he was dying of AIDS the Vilkmers of (redacted), Texas are guilty of filicide, it hurt so much I couldn’t breathe.

Neoclassicism: If something came back into fashion, what do you hope it would be? Progress. Forward thinking. Long term planning. I understand that human history is mostly a blurry smear of violence and cruelty. Occasionally though we exceed a perceived boundary and blast our way through to a whole new perception of understanding. My formative years – the late 1960s to the mid-70s were such a time. Humanity’s ability to shape the future is what puts us slightly above our primate cousins.

Romanticism: Do you often see things in a positive light? Oh yes. All kinds of romance. The wonderful hearts and flowers and hot sex romance, of course. But I take a broader view of romance. A more literary view, I suppose. I believe and celebrate the romance of friendship, and of the arts. I believe in the romance of two opposites creating a whole. Cashmere and concrete. The plodder and the flibbertigibbet. Romanticism is a choice of perception – it takes determination and a hefty amount of courage to be a romantic these days.

Pre-Raphaelite: Which book would you like to see turned into a film? I truly wish people wouldn’t keep trying to shove one style of storytelling over into another! Authors/artists pick their medium for a reason. I’m a word person and a visual/cinema person. I would NOT express myself as a wedding cake or a public garden. Or a pottery bowl. The following is a fanfic. No way it would survive the copyright turf wars. But do I love a well thought out mash-up? Oh yes.

 

I wish. At the ‘Not Mom, Not Wife, Not Employee’ launching pad is where LA the Individual lives. It takes an extraordinary outburst of directed energy to get a look into my most personal space, this trailer does it.

Impressionism: Do you look for details or take everything in at once? Gosh this is a toughie for me! It’s truly too close to call. The details inform the whole as the whole encourages confirmation via details. To be honest? Behavior dictates all. I don’t care if you have four teeth or if you drive an Audi, if you’re jerk then you’re a jerk. On the flip-side decency, honesty, and the desire/ability to cut others some slack with empathy and kindness means a lot!

 

Art Nouveau: When were you last at the theater? The movies? A few months? I honestly cannot remember what we saw. Live theater? Eddie Izzard. A high school production of ‘Blythe Spirit’. Most influential? ‘The Mineola Twins’ – starring Swoozie Kurtz and Julie Kavner. Y’all, my whole life Julie Kavner has been sold as a frump. A FAT frump. Some kind of obese loser. I can swear to you right now Julie Kavner is TINY. In no way deserving of her rep as a heifer. Oy, the patriarchy. Julie Kavner is only a beast to those who want women to be gossamer. I’ve always identified with Julie Kavner’s characters. The less attractive sister. The giver of advice. (It’s always the unattractive friend who dispenses the life wisdom). It was a shock seeing her on stage and how itty-bitty she is. On stage during several costume changes, no less…wow!

Surrealism: Why does the porcupine think it’s a duck? Because oranges drive Model T’s. Ha! I enjoy surrealism. I do not believe surrealism is morally worthier than objectivism though. I also posit that all art is art. Some things just speak to you. You’re allowed to like what you like.

Pop Art: Do you enjoy pop culture? If you’re asking if I enjoy Warhol the answer is yes. Andy Warhol gave queer folk and trans people a voice into the mainstream they might not otherwise had. Unfortunately his quirky satire got taken waaaaaay too seriously and defeated the whole concept of Op-Art/Pop Art. If you mean do I enjoy whatever has risen to the top of the media/marketing darling chart last/this/next week? Not usually. At least with current music and TV. Throw in Insta and YouTube and any other media platform too. I’m old enough to be eclectic and unswayed by fad or fashion.

Contemporary: What did you do today? Not a lot. Slept late. Watched a few episodes of my current detective show. Chatted with Mick when he got up. Roasted some chicken breasts. Had a nap. I am deliberately ignoring the voice yammering at me to make a health-related excuse for my ‘sloth’ or otherwise explain myself. Nope. Did almost zero chores and a whole lot of pleasurable nothing. Because I can. And I wanted to.

 

Love you lots! ~LA

A Saturday Sunday Stealing

Hiya. Nothing shaking on today’s agenda except resting and throwing food at Mick every few hours. Gosh, that sounds mean. Or that I think Mick is a zoo animal. Not so. I just meant the only time I have to leave the pleasant distraction of meme-ing is to whip up a meal for my honey. I am out of opioids and cannabidiol and having to rely on OTC NSAIDs, herbal teas, hot water bottles, and waving shiny things around in my brain to pull my attention away from today’s stratospheric pain.

Many thanks to Bev and Sunday Stealing for the following.

I Know What U Meme 2014

How many states have you been in? Mostly I’ve been a solid but after a couple bowls of chili I am quite gaseous.

 If a sexist Man is called a pig, what is a sexist Woman called? A jerk.

You see the one person who you absolutely despise. If you were guaranteed that he/she couldn’t say or do anything back to you…. What would you do?? I understand the point here is to spit or get all ranty or even violent, but me? I know I’d give them a contemptuous once-over, snort, and walk away. It’s a slow burn but quite effective.

How many states are to the right of you? And don’t give us a map to look at. None. If one were to head directly east from my house eventually you’d land in Long Island Sound. But go north a little and turn right and you’d be in Connecticut and then the Sound.

You can go anywhere in the world for free. Where are you? Wow. This actually caused a huge traffic jam in my brain. All the choices slammed together and started honking for attention. To be honest they did some smack talking about the other locales too. “Paris? Paris is rioting! And it’s full of Chinese tourists who spit and shove.” “Tokyo? Honey, you wouldn’t even fit in Japan! You’d be crashing around knocking over buildings and everyone would scream, “GOJIRA!” and wait to be stomped on.” “The Kalahari? Ooo, great. Watching gnus pooping.” “Phuket? Singapore? Hanoi? Shanghai? You know you can’t do hot and humid or pollution so get rid of Mexico City, Bogota, and all of India and China too.” Eventually one place emerged from the scrum – McMurdo Station, Antarctica. I know it’s a serious place and tourists are NOT allowed there. Michael Palin found this out the hard way. But I saw a documentary about the people who winter over there and was/am absolutely fascinated. Less than 80 people stay at McMurdo over the winter, yet that’s by far the largest population on the continent. Each of the winter crew takes on several jobs to keep the place running and the people healthy. They hold a few events over the season to liven things up (the mid-winter luau is a real high point) and food is cooked and served family style, but locked in by the weather, the dark, and the scant company the isolation creeps in and each person withdraws into their own little place. Physically and mentally. I’m drawn to it because by having real duties it’s not the same navel gazing self-indulgence of convent or ashram retreats, yet the results are quite similar. Alone with my brain with literally nowhere to run for 6 months. Either I’d be a new person or they’d carry me out of there in a straight jacket come spring.

HOW MANY FINGERS AM I HOLDING UP? None. Your fingers are neatly on your keyboard on their home keys.

Are you a boxing fan? I used to be. Boxing seemed more honest than sports played with bats and balls. If sport is a substitute for war then why faff around with pucks and such? Take two men and let them beat the crap out of each other until one falls down. Plus I grew up during the last big heyday of heavyweight boxing. The Muhammad Ali years and his noisy goofy thing with Howard Cosell. Rocky movies. Pay-per-view was a new thing and I remember bars and VFW halls selling tickets. Then came Mike Tyson and boxing wasn’t fun anymore. The boxers I loved started showing how damaged they were and scandal exposed how corrupt the sport was. So, no. I’m not a boxing fan anymore.

What is the most disgusting thing you have ever eaten? That’s a poser. Disgusting to me? Gloopy chipped beef on toast. Gag! The thing I eat that most other people think is gross? Bologna and hot dogs. Eating either of these in public is like smoking – always some ass clown there to make faces and remind me my lunch is made of ground up pig anuses and cow’s ears. Like I care. Shut up, nosybody and go back to your clabbered milk and reject fruit puree (yogurt).

Is it cloudy right now? Sigh…yes it is. Somehow I’ve moved to Scotland and took everybody with me. It’s rare to have an entire sunny day anymore. Occasionally the mornings are sunny but by mid-afternoon the gloom has returned. Rain almost every day too. Sometimes deluges but mostly spits and spats just enough to keep the ground muddy and my car windows all spotty. Climate change blows.

Someone gives you a $500 gift card to WalMart or Target. What are you going to buy? Underpants and socks for me and my guys. Several bath towels. Table linens. I lurrrve placemats and tablecloths. Then round it out with whimsy purchases like amusing hats and snarky t-shirts. Toys, maybe. Definitely a lipstick or nail polish. Not very exciting, I suppose, but I’d be really happy with those things.

When you were little, what did you want to be “when you grow up”? And, how much different is your occupation now from where you thought it would be when you were younger? I always assumed I’d be an attorney. At birth my initials were L.A.W. and I was told this was an omen. Especially when by age 2 I was objecting to things not with a toddler’s tantrums and “NO!” but with honed arguments and rather pointed logic. In two languages, no less. Family legend has it that while still in my high chair I’d negotiated my way out of ever having to eat lima beans. When I was an older kid my mother was a legal secretary and I liked the atmosphere of the law offices. The big shiny wood desks. The nailhead studded leather furniture. The walls of heavy bound books. The accouterments were classy too. Nicely framed diplomas. Brass desk lamps with green glass shades. Heavy silver pens and paper knives. In the lawyers’ offices the phones didn’t shrill, they made discrete soft chimes.  Mix this in with my powerful daydreams of being A Defender of Justice! I couldn’t stick up for myself but boy howdy I was fierce in my defense of others and of right over wrong! Imagine my dismay when I discovered the law had zero to do with justice or good doing, it was just this creepy endless grub for money and deal making. Disillusioned I turned my back on the law (and my secret dreams of a political career) and went wandering. Career-wise, I mean. Mostly I’ve sold things. Now at almost 56 I have a joe job wearing a polyester shirt and a name tag. I punch a time clock. I’m about as far from the Persian carpeted leather and rosewood atmosphere of the genteel attorney as can be except for maybe a truck stop brothel. Do I mind? Only when my back hurts.

What was your favorite toy as a child? I’ve covered this one a lot. My girl, Barbie. So I’ll go with my next favorite. My cousin David’s collection of beechwood building blocks.

blocks

Damn, I loved those things! He had an enviable collection of Little People and their buildings too. (The barn was the best. “Moo!”) The blocks though…wow. They were big and he had probably 350-400 of them. In all the cool shapes. I remember sitting inside a circle of them building castle walls taller than my head. The wonderful symmetry of a row of columns and arches. Holding my breath as I balanced the triangles on their fulcrums. David never bothered with them, he was always upstairs crying in his room or begging Oma for Hawaiian punch. Weirdo.

 Which Sesame Street Character do you relate with the most and why? It’s funny but I adore Grover and his poor customer, Mr. Johnson.

 

Grover’s enthusiasm and desire to do a good job is me. But Mr. Johnson and his increasing frustration at not being heard is me too. Though my ultimate favorite Sesame Street features were the number songs. I don’t usually enjoy slapstick but the baker falling down the stairs always made me laugh.

 

That’s the song of 10. And also the end of today’s post.

 

Love you lots! ~LA

Not Loud Enough

Something I’ve been dunned with my whole life is how LOUD I am. Along with the ‘Lee-lee the Weirdo’ thing loudness has been my most constant and most wrathfully delivered criticism. God, would I just pipe down already? Such a loud girl. Loud = rude. Loud = needy. Loud = trashy. Loud = wrong.

I learned. Not well enough to please all the critics, but at 5’11” and mumblemumble lbs with my heroic Valkyrie breasts and deep contralto voice and a seeming inability to stop being myself, well, pleasing everyone just ain’t happening.

loud girl

 

But…I did learn to make my wants and needs really small. Invisible, actually, inaudible. For all my directness and booming, uh, asking for what I want was shanked right out of me. A crude excision, true, but quite effective. By the time I was 6 I’d been mostly stripped of my ability to be any kind of advocate for myself and had it hammered home at 7 with the bloody underpants and my mother’s flat out rejection of the evidence I’d been assaulted and immediate accusation that I was trying to ruin her life again. When you’re not even allowed to object to rape the idea of wanting hair ribbons or a new coloring book goes right out the window, you know?

It’s taken half a century but I’ve figured out it’s okay to want things for myself, and that my needs don’t always give way to others’. I’ll be honest and admit here I’m still not very good at articulating this to other people though. And if my feeble attempts at being heard are blown off often enough I usually give up. The ex was especially good at the deaf ear thing, his autism enhancing his natural indifference to other’s feeling and wants. That he is also a sadist meant that not only did I learn NOT to ask, I went to great trouble to HIDE my needs because he so enjoyed taunting me and denying me. Hungry? He made sure to eat the last of the food. Cold? He’d stuff all the blankets he couldn’t hold onto for himself into the washing machine and get them sopping wet just to be certain I couldn’t use one. Sociopath? Why, yes. Thanks for asking.

Mick is different. He truly cares and does his best to give me a good life. Like most men though, he’s better at giving me what HE thinks I need than paying attention to what I actually ask for. So his inability to truly hear and my reluctance to speak LOUDLY has brought us to a couple spectacular rows.

Today’s wasn’t showy but I believe he’s finally heard me. Which is great because I was about to really lose my cool and get medieval on his heinie.

Mick and Sebastian have conspired to relieve me of most domestic chores. I appreciate this and do not look my gift horses in the mouth. If the house is a bit grungier than I like or the finesse is a little lacking I don’t ding them about it. If something really bugs me I bust a move or two and put things to rights myself. That’s fair. But there are two things I’ve spoken long and (I thought) loudly enough about. The standard to which the pots and pans are scrubbed to and the organization of the food storage.

Food is my gig. My salary buys our food. I work all day at the grocery and keep a beady eye out for bargains. I shop for the food and lug it home. I don’t usually carry it inside but I do help put it away. I plan the meals and do 99.999% of the food prep and cooking. And all I ask is that the cabinets and refrigerator stay tidy. I have to be able to find the food to cook it.

Does this happen?

hehehe

Mick is the worst offender and YES I have spoken up about the way he shoves things all higgledy-piggledy into the cabinets and fridge. Over the past 12 years I know I have said something at least 50 times. No lie. Further adding insult to injury is that Mick keeps all HIS stuff immaculate. To my mind all I was asking was he do my stuff as well as he cares for his own. Not extra or burdensome, just equal. The constant burn of being ignored and the obvious disrespect of the messy cram-packed fridge with indifferently stored leftovers, things tumbling out every time I opened the door, the way we ALWAYS have at least three open jars of mayonnaise, and how I am forever finding things gone to ruin and thus wasted because they got shoved to the back and buried…man! It totally pissed me off. I figure I work at least an hour a week to pay for wasted food.

Today as I kept trying to organize and Mick kept jamming shit into the fridge I spoke up yet again only to be dismissed with a laughing, “Jeeze, don’t get buggy, LA.” It brought me to tears. Finally he noticed! And to his credit was immediately sorry. And contrite. And absolutely willing to stop his bullshit and keep to the way I want the fridge to be.

I need my mise (en place). And having the food, oils, and spices stored where and how I need them to be is important.

mise

So is good communication. When things calmed down I asked Mick what he needed from me to truly get him to listen. I know I’m not a great asker. Neither of us wants our life to be a series of frustrating build-ups, explosions, and honeymoon-ish contrition. He said he’d think on it and figure out a way we can get the important stuff across without coming to (metaphorical) blows.

I am proud of this. And us.

 

Much love always, ~LA